To get your ready for the weekend of action, we give you predictions for every game this weekend. All the rankings are based on Athlon's college football rankings.
By Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
Thursday, Sept. 8
No. 54 Arizona at No. 10 Oklahoma State
The Cowboys rolled up 666 yards of total offense under first-year coordinator Todd Monken en route to a 61–34 Week 1 win over Louisiana-Lafayette in Stillwater. The test will be more difficult this Thursday night when Arizona comes calling.
Oklahoma State 37, Arizona 24
Friday, Sept. 9
No. 28 Missouri at No. 31 Arizona State
James Franklin was a bit shaky in his first start at quarterback for Missouri. He will have to be much better this week against at very solid Arizona State defense.
Arizona State 21, Missouri 17
No. 90 FIU at No. 75 Louisville
The boys in Vegas have only made Louisville a four-point favorite. Not a huge surprise after the Cards only put 21 points on Murray State in the opener.
Louisville 20, FIU 14
Saturday, Sept. 10
No. 1 Alabama at No. 32 Penn State
Last year, Alabama handled Penn State with relative ease, cruising to a 24–3 in Tuscaloosa. The venue will be different this time around — Beaver Stadium in State College — but the result should be similar.
Alabama 27, Penn State 10
Northwestern State at No. 3 LSU
Northwestern State is a decent FCS program. LSU is a dominant FBS program. This figures to be one of the biggest mismatches of the week.
LSU 50, Northwestern State 3
Charleston Southern at No. 4 Florida State
This has to be the most lopsided matchup of the season. Charleston Southern is fresh off of a 62–0 loss at UCF in a game in which it managed only 119 yards of offense.
Florida State 61, Charleston Southern 0
No. 6 Virginia Tech at No. 79 East Carolina
Dating back to last October, East Carolina has given up 40 points or more in seven straight games. That streak might not end until Oct. 15, when the Pirates visit Memphis.
Virginia Tech 49, East Carolina 22
No. 81 Fresno State at No. 7 Nebraska
The locals aren’t pleased with Pat Hill after the Bulldogs managed only 218 total yards in a 36–21 loss to Cal last week. They can’t expect much this week against a Nebraska defense that figures to be among the best in the nation.
Nebraska 34, Fresno State 10
No. 65 Nevada at No. 9 Oregon
The boys in Vegas don’t seem to think Nevada can keep this game close — Nevada is a 27-point underdog. I disagree. The Colin Kaepernick-less Pack still has talent.
Oregon 40, Nevada 27
No. 11 Stanford at No. 86 Duke
Duke is still smarting after losing at home to Richmond last weekend. Stanford is feeling pretty good after a 57–3 win vs. San Jose State. It would be a surprise if the Blue Devils kept this close — even at home.
Stanford 38, Duke 13
No. 98 Oregon State at No. 12 Wisconsin
There was only one positive to come out of Oregon State’s 29–28 overtimes loss to Sacramento State last weekend: True freshman Malcolm Agnew rushed for 223 yards. Agnew, however, is out this week with a hamstring injury. Not good for the Beavers.
Wisconsin 38, Oregon State 14
No. 116 New Mexico at No. 13 Arkansas
The Lobos actually led Colorado State midway through the fourth quarter before falling 14–10 last Saturday. They won’t lead in the fourth quarter this week.
Arkansas 51, New Mexico 10
Norfolk State at No. 14 West Virginia
Dana Holgorsen’s offense has one more tune-up before back-to-back dates with Maryland and LSU.
West Virginia 47, Norfolk State 10
No. 88 UAB at No. 15 Florida
UAB was one of only two teams that did not play in Week 1 (Nevada was the other). The Blazers have a solid quarterback in Bryan Ellis and an outstanding running back in Pat Shed (questionable with a sports hernia). Keep in mind that UAB lost its two games to SEC teams last season by a combined eight points — by three to Tennessee in OT and by five at Mississippi State.
Florida 38, UAB 14
No. 67 Toledo at No. 16 Ohio State
Ohio State dismantled a team from the MAC (Akron) in the opener. Toledo, however, is far more talented than Akron. The Rockets will play two solid quarterbacks (Terrance Owens and Austin Dantin), and they have weapons at running back and receiver.
Ohio State 36, Toledo 20
No. 17 Notre Dame at No. 41 Michigan
Brian Kelly’s second season at Notre Dame didn’t exactly begin as planned, with a 23–20 loss at home to South Florida. But please be advised: Don’t jump off the Irish bandwagon just yet.
Notre Dame 31, Michigan 24
No. 48 Utah at No. 18 USC
Utah makes its debut in its new conference with a trip to the L.A. Coliseum. Both teams need to play well after lackluster wins in Week 1 — USC over Minnesota and Utah over Montana State.
USC 27, Utah 17
No. 19 South Carolina at No. 26 Georgia
It’s the biggest game in the history of Georgia football. Well, that’s what many Bulldogs fans will tell you after their team was outclassed at the Georgia Dome by Boise State last Saturday night. Georgia didn’t do much to give us reason to believe it can beat a good team, but it’s a bit too early to give up on Mark Richt and his Bulldogs.
Georgia 24, South Carolina 21
No. 20 Mississippi State at No. 47 Auburn
The defending national champs are a 6.5-point underdog at home to a team that went 4–4 in the SEC last year. Not a surprise, if you watched both Auburn and Mississippi State play last week.
Mississippi State 37, Auburn 24
No. 35 BYU at No. 21 Texas
Right now, one of these teams is an Independent and the other is in the Big 12. Next year? Who knows? Both teams could be in the Big 12 or the Pac-16, or possibly both could be in the Independent ranks.
Texas 24, BYU 16
No. 23 TCU at No. 36 Air Force
He’s not Robert Griffin III, but Air Force quarterback Tim Jefferson is very good. It wouldn’t be a huge shock if TCU is 0–2 after this week’s action. That said, I’m picking the Frogs to bounce back.
TCU 28, Air Force 24
No. 120 Florida Atlantic at No. 24 Michigan State
Michigan State posted a workmanlike 28–6 win over Youngstown State last Friday. This week, the level of competition won’t be much, if any, better. Florida Atlantic is arguably the worst team in the FCS ranks.
Michigan State 41, Florida Atlantic 0
No. 84 Ball State at No. 27 South Florida
The Pete Lembo era got off to a great start at Ball State, as the Cardinals upset in-state rival Indiana in Indianapolis in Week 1. South Florida is also feeling pretty good about itself after a huge win at Notre Dame.
South Florida 27, Ball State 14
No. 29 Iowa at No. 64 Iowa State
The Hawkeyes have won six of the past eight in this series, including the past three by an average score of 29–5. Expect more of the same.
Iowa 24, Iowa State 10
No. 33 NC State at No. 61 Wake Forest
It will be very interesting to see how Wake Forest bounces back from last week’s crushing overtime loss at Syracuse.
NC State 34, Wake Forest 27
South Dakota State at No. 34 Illinois
Illinois handled a pretty solid Arkansas State team in Week 1, churning out over 200 yards passing and 200 yards rushing en route to a 33–15 victory. This one shouldn’t be as close.
Illinois 41, South Dakota State 13
No. 70 Rutgers at No. 37 North Carolina
It was quite the debut for North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner, who completed 22-of-23 passes for 277 yards in the Heels’ 42–10 win over James Madison. Rutgers will provide a bigger test, but Renner is a big-time talent.
North Carolina 24, Rutgers 14
No. 56 Cincinnati at No. 38 Tennessee
Cincinnati rolled up 72 points in its Week 1 win over Austin Peay. Eight different Bearcats scored a touchdown and 10 different UC players rushed for at least 10 yards. Now, Butch Jones’ club must see what it can do against another, far more talented, team from the state of Tennessee.
Tennessee 30, Cincinnati 27
Wofford at No. 39 Clemson
New offensive coordinator Chad Morris was not happy with the Clemson attack in last week’s win over Troy. The Tigers have one more dress rehearsal before Auburn comes to town.
Clemson 44, Wofford 10
Maine at No. 42 Pittsburgh
I passed on Ray Graham in my fantasy draft because I was worried that former Wisconsin Badger Zach Brown would take away some his carries. I was wrong. Graham rushed for 209 yards on 29 carries against Buffalo last week. Brown? Two carries.
Pittsburgh 34, Maine 3
Eastern Illinois at No. 43 Northwestern
Northwestern recorded one of the more impressive victories of Week 1, topping Boston College, 24–17, on the road with starting quarterback Dan Persa on the bench. Persa is reportedly almost ready to return (Achilles), but the Cats won’t need him this week.
Northwestern 34, Eastern Illinois 10
Rhode Island at No. 44 Syracuse
Syracuse is very, very fortunate to be 1–0. The Orange trailed Wake Forest 29–14 midway through the fourth quarter before rallying to send the game into overtime. It better not be as stressful this week.
Syracuse 30, Rhode Island 10
No. 60 Hawaii at No. 45 Washington
Washington defensive coordinator Nick Holt has been a busy man this week after watching Eastern Washington torch his boys for 473 yards passing. It doesn’t get any easier — in fact, it gets harder — with Bryant Moniz and Hawaii coming to town.
Washington 31, Hawaii 30
No. 46 Georgia Tech at No. 87 Middle Tennessee
MTSU hung tough with Georgia Tech into the third quarter last year in Atlanta — it was 14–7 at the half — before the Jackets pulled away on their way to a 42–14 win. The Blue Raiders had no answer for the Tech option attack, allowing 329 yards on the ground. This one is in Murfreesboro — quite a coup for MTSU — but Georgia Tech is still the better team.
Georgia Tech 34, Middle Tennessee 17
No. 117 UTEP at No. 49 SMU
SMU is eager to bounce back after a disappointing showing on a national stage vs. Texas A&M. J.J. McDermott will get the start at quarterback, but Kyle Padron will also play. It won’t matter.
SMU 49, UTEP 17
No. 50 California at No. 80 Colorado
Scheduled before Colorado switched conferences, this is a game between Pac-12 teams that is not a Pac-12 game. It’s also a game that California should win.
California 34, Colorado 14
No. 51 Houston at No. 113 North Texas
Case Keenum’s return was quite successful. The sixth-year senior completed 30-of-40 passes for 310 yards in the Cougars’ 38–34 win over UCLA. This one could get ugly early.
Houston 48, North Texas 10
No. 52 Boston College at No. 53 UCF
In week 1 vs. Northwestern, Boston College rolled up 455 yards of offense and did not turn the ball over — yet only scored 17 points. That is hard to do.
UCF 21, Boston College 17
No. 55 Southern Miss at No. 97 Marshall
The Southern Miss offense only put up 19 points on Louisiana Tech in a Week 1 victory, but Larry Fedora had to be pleased with his team’s defense. The Golden Eagles held Tech’s spread offense to only 244 yards and 17 points. This week, the USM defense will try to make life difficult for Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato, a true freshman making his second start.
Southern Miss 24, Marshall 10
No. 119 New Mexico State at No. 57 Minnesota
It was a rough start for New Mexico State. The Aggies lost at home to Ohio by 20 points and netted six yards rushing. Not good. Minnesota returns home after its near miss at USC. This one is almost a gimme.
Minnesota 40, New Mexico State 10
No. 58 Navy at No. 103 Western Kentucky
In classic Navy fashion, the Middies scored 40 points while completing only four passes in their Week 1 win over Delaware. Western Kentucky gave up only 190 total yards to Kentucky last week. This could be tricky for Navy.
Navy 24, Western Kentucky 17
No. 59 Connecticut at No. 74 Vanderbilt
For those interested in this sort of thing, UConn opened (in some places) as a one-point favorite. Vanderbilt is now a two-point favorite. Interesting.
Vanderbilt 17, Connecticut 14
No. 62 Tulsa at No. 107 Tulane
Tulane struggled to stop the pass last week (295 yards allowed) in a 47–33 win over SE Louisiana. Good luck slowing down the Golden Hurricane.
Tulsa 44, Tulane 20
No. 104 Central Michigan at No. 63 Kentucky
Both of these teams won in Week 1, but both struggled mightily on offense against teams they should have overmatched. Kentucky managed only 190 yards, including 58 on one play (a late scramble by quarterback Morgan Newton) in a 14–3 win over Western Kentucky, while CMU had 256 yards in a 21–6 win over South Carolina State.
Kentucky 17, Central Michigan 3
No. 66 San Diego State at No. 85 Army
Army was a bit of a disappointment in Week 1, falling behind Northern Illinois 49–6 heading into the fourth quarter before rallying for 20 meaningless points. The Black Knights gave up 289 yards on the ground. Good luck stopping San Diego State sophomore Ronnie Hillman.
San Diego State 38, Army 24
No. 68 Purdue at No. 99 Rice
It wasn’t always pretty, but Purdue gutted out a Week 1 win at home vs. Middle Tennessee. The trip to Rice is a key barometer for Purdue: It’s a game Danny Hope’s club simply must win if it wants to be a good team this season.
Purdue 21, Rice 17
No. 122 San Jose State at No. 69 UCLA
Rick Neuheisel isn’t exactly thrilled with his team’s effort of late. The Bruins can beat San Jose State by simply showing up, but it would be a bit alarming if UCLA doesn’t play with passion after being called out by the head coach.
UCLA 41, San Jose State 0
No. 71 Northern Illinois at No. 77 Kansas
Fresh off a dominating win vs. Army, Northern Illinois finds itself as a favorite on the road vs. a BCS conference opponent. That’s impressive.
Northern Illinois 31, Kansas 21
No. 72 Virginia at No. 89 Indiana
The Kevin Wilson era began with on a sour note — a neutral site 27–20 loss to in-state rival Ball State. Virginia rolled past William & Mary with ease, 40–3. This should be a more difficult test.
Virginia 27, Indiana 17
Southern Illinois at No. 73 Ole Miss
This might not be as easy as some Ole Miss fans would like. Southern Illinois is a quality FCS program that opened its season with a 38–10 win at SE Missouri State. One thing is for sure: Ole Miss will be ready to play, after losing last year’s opener to an FCS school, Jacksonville State.
Ole Miss 24, Southern Illinois 14
Weber State at No. 78 Utah State
Utah State came oh-so-close to a program-changing win at Auburn last Saturday. Gary Andersen needs to keep his team focused this week — Weber State is good enough to make the Aggies sweat.
Utah State 31, Weber State 17
No. 109 UNLV at No. 82 Washington State
It’s not a good sign for UNLV football that the Runnin’ Rebels are a 14-point underdog to a Washington State team that will be without its quarterback (who is arguably its best player).
Washington State 28, UNLV 17
Gardner-Webb at No. 83 Ohio
With Tyler Tettleton (son of former major leaguer Mickey Tettleton) at quarterback, Ohio beat New Mexico State on the road with ease last week.
Ohio 37, Gardner-Webb 14
Northern Colorado at No. 91 Colorado State
It’s not a good sign that Colorado State compiled only 260 total yards against New Mexico and had to rally in the fourth quarter to escape with a 14–10 win.
Colorado State 28, Northern Colorado 14
No. 94 Temple at No. 114 Akron
Temple was very impressive in a 42–7 win over Villanova. Bernard Pierce led the way with 147 yards and three touchdowns. Owls in a route.
Temple 38, Akron 10
Nicholls State at No. 95 Western Michigan
Western Michigan returns home for a two-game homestand after losing in a weather-shortened game at Michigan last weekend.
Western Michigan 31, Nicholls State 13
Central Arkansas at No. 96 Louisiana Tech
Louisiana Tech was held to 244 total yards in last week’s 19–17 loss at Southern Miss. That couldn’t have made head coach Sonny Dykes too pleased.
No. 96 Louisiana Tech 34, Central Arkansas
Morgan State at No. 100 Bowling Green
Bowling Green was one of only six FBS teams that won a true road game in Week 1. The Falcons cruised to a surprisingly easy 32–15 win at Idaho.
Bowling Green 41, Morgan State 12
No. 118 Memphis at No. 101 Arkansas State
Arkansas State is my sleeper in the Sun Belt. Memphis is headed toward another last-place finish in the C-USA East. Go with the Red Wolves. Big.
Arkansas State 37, Memphis 17
Texas State at No. 102 Wyoming
The Pokes’ victory over Weber State in Week 1 was far from easy. They gave up 463 total yards and trailed deep into the fourth quarter.
Wyoming 24, Texas State 14
No. 115 UL Lafayette at No. 105 Kent State
These two punching bags were defeated by a combined score of 111–41 and gave up by a total of 1,148 yards in their respective Week 1 games — UL Lafayette to Oklahoma State and Kent State to Alabama.
Kent State 13, UL Lafayette 10
Grambling State at No. 106 Louisiana-Monroe
The ULM offense had one thing going for it in last week’s 34–0 loss to Florida State — it was balanced, with 92 yards passing and 99 yards rushing.
No. 106 Louisiana-Monroe 17, Grambling State 3
North Dakota at No. 108 Idaho
Idaho was one of the Week 1 disappointments, losing at home to Bowling Green, 32–15. North Dakota shut out Drake 16–0 in its opener. Going with the first FCS over FBS prediction of the year.
North Dakota 21, Idaho 20
Stony Brook at No. 110 Buffalo
Buffalo played very well in a 35–16 loss at Pitt. The Bulls trailed 21–16 early in the fourth quarter before fading down the stretch. Stony Brook took UTEP to overtime last weekend.
Buffalo 28, Stony Brook 14
Alabama State at No. 111 Eastern Michigan
Eastern Michigan hasn’t started a season 2–0 since 1989, when Jim Harkema’s club jumped out to a 3–0 mark (and 5–0–1) en route to a 7–3 record. This is no gimme, however; Alabama State is 1–0 after a 41–9 win over Mississippi Valley State.
Eastern Michigan 21, Alabama State 17